Basic Survival Guide to Understanding FAFSA

Over $150 billion dollars is given in awards from the U.S. Department of Education every year to help individuals pursue their dreams of higher education. Where can college-bound students gain access to a fraction of this amount? Through a program called FAFSA.

Understanding FAFSA can cause confusion if you don't know what you're doing. Today, I will walk you step-by-step as to what FAFSA is, how to apply, and why January 1st is so important. Click to read.

What is FAFSA? Who needs it? And, why should you bother filling this form out? This is what we will be talking about today.

There are 4 key concepts students and parents must know in order to begin understanding what FAFSA can do for them and how they can benefit from this program.

Basic Survival Guide to Understanding FAFSA

1. What Is It?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is a program that students and parents fill out in order to determine financial aid eligibility. You can access this form by clicking HERE.

2. Who Needs It?

Every student entering college needs to fill out this form no matter their level of income. Colleges use the FAFSA to also determine scholarship programs and other potential awards.

3. Why Should You Fill It Out?

Universities use the FAFSA form to determine financial status while a student is attending school. This form not only lets the university know of the student’s incoming aid but opens the door to other financial means. The FAFSA does not offer strictly loans. This form is in constant use to also determine grants and work-study programs.

4. Timeline

The FAFSA form must be filled out EVERY academic year. The financial year for FAFSA begins in July and ends in June. However, forms are available to fill out beginning January 1st. And, the sooner you fill out your FAFSA after January 1st, the better.

(For example, if your child will be a freshman in college from September 2017 until June 2018, you will want to fill out the FAFSA form January 1, 2017 – remember, the sooner the better, after January 1st).

The form will ask questions about parent’s earning, which can be found on their tax form. Taxes do not have to be filed prior to filling out this form. The most important thing a student and parent can do is submit their form as soon as they can, after January 1st.

I am a firm believer in the FAFSA program if the student and parent are responsible with their money. Students need to understand that loans must be paid back. They also need to understand that loans accrue interest and grow for as long as they are held under the student’s name. I strongly encourage anyone who will be taking out a loan to seek financial counseling prior to making a large investment.

I strongly encourage anyone who will be taking out a loan to seek financial counseling prior to making a large investment.

For those students and parents who need more in-depth information about the U.S. Department of Education and Student Aid, I strongly encourage people to visit the Federal Student Aid website. This website can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Do you have any money saving tips for attending college? Leave a comment and let us know below.

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